Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Walnut sourdough bread & peanut butter ice cream

It was too hot much of last week to bake, but the weather was perfect for a no-cook, same-day ice cream like peanut butter. Toward the end of the week, I also made a walnut sourdough, which is becoming one of my favorite breads.

Walnut sourdough

I've made walnut sourdough before, both with and without the long covered baker. After my weird (though tasty) sourdough last week, I felt like I needed to go back to the original recipe and not mess with the timing so much.

Walnut sourdough, cooked in a long, covered baker

I used the usual Josey Baker recipe, but added walnuts (maybe 1 cup). I deliberately kept the dough a little drier than it has been. I think I've been putting > 1 cup of water in there, but I used a scant cup this time. The toasted walnuts also might have absorbed some water. This dough was much easier to handle than it has been lately.

Walnuts ready for toasting

The conveniently pre-chopped walnut pieces came from Trader Joe's. Previously I'd chopped whole walnuts from Berkeley Bowl, but the TJ pre-chopped nuts are much more convenient, and they tasted just as good to me (after toasting, at least). I just tossed a bunch onto a cookie sheet, put the sheet in the oven, and turned the oven to 350.

I mixed in the walnut pieces (maybe 3/4 cup?) during what would normally be the first mini-knead. The dough was easy to handle, so I sort of picked it up and mashed it around to distribute the nuts.

After the last mini-knead

The rest of the mini-kneads were the usual Josey Baker process of picking up the edge and stretching it gently, turning the bowl a tiny bit, repeat 10 times or so.

A couple of hours after the last mini-knead, the dough had risen quite a bit and was ready to shape.

Ready to shape

I really need to take a shaping class, but here's what I did this time. I put it out onto a well-floured board. After making sure the dough wouldn't stick (using a dough blade to scrape it up, putting flour underneath, and turning it over a couple of times) I patted it into a rectangle. I folded the rectangle into thirds and let it rest. After a few minutes, I folded the dough in half again and rolled it a little bit. I then put it into the gheed baker.

The shaped dough in the long, ghee-brushed baker

2.5 hours later, it looked ready to go into the oven.

After rising

Rats! I forgot to slash it! No matter, it didn't seem to mind.

I didn't notice when the oven reached 450, and the color from the walnuts made it difficult to tell how brown the crust was. About 30 minutes after the bread went into the cold oven, I took off the top of the baker. I took it out of the oven about 10 minutes later.

Partial remains of the loaf

We had to take it to a friend's house (40 minutes away by car) while it was still hot, making the car smell heavenly. We couldn't resist tearing off some to eat. When the loaf was merely warm, we put it into a lunch bag for ease of carrying.

Greasy paper bag, thanks to the walnuts

The bread worked well cut thick and used to hold thin turkey burgers. The next day it was great as a base for tuna sandwiches. And, of course, it was great alone.

Timing details:
  • Midnight or so Friday: refreshed the starter
  • 9 am Saturday: mixed the dough and toasted walnuts
  • 9:40: mixed in the walnut pieces
  • 10:15, 10:30, 10:50: mini-kneads
  • 1:45: started shaping
  • 2:05: put it into the ghee-brushed baker
  • 4:35: put it into the oven; turned the oven on to 450
  • 5:05: took the top of the pan off
  • 5:15: took the loaf out of the oven
Temperature details:
  • The water I added to the starter was 88 degrees, by probe or by laser (pronounced LAY-zerrrrr). (The recipe called for 80 degrees.)
  • The kitchen was 73 degrees when I started, 75 by the time the dough started resting at 9:10, and 79 by 2.

Peanut butter ice cream

Peanut butter ice cream is easy and quick to make, following the recipe in The Perfect Scoop. I had a request to make peanut butter chocolate, so I mixed chocolate chunks into most of the batch. I love PBJ ice cream, so I made a bit of that, too. Sadly, I had no Bonne Maman, so I settled for another brand of raspberry preserves. Both the PBC and the PBJ were very good, especially the first day before the ice cream hardened.

Sorry, no pictures.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Over-the-hill sourdough, spent grain bread, and whiskey-cherry-chocolate ice cream

I was out of town again last weekend, but managed to make a couple of breads and some ice cream.

The first bread was the usual sourdough, but with a starter that was long in the tooth. The second was a bread machine recipe that used the spent grain from my guys' initial attempt at brewing beer. I say attempt because it'll be a month before we know whether they succeeded. Thank goodness bread doesn't take as long.

Sourdough bread

Tired starter produces misshapen yet tasty sourdough

The sourdough was the same Josey Baker recipe I usually use, except:
  • The starter had last been refreshed over 24 hours before, so although it smelled great, it was way past peak activity/volume.
  • I refrigerated the dough after the last "knead" (on Friday), not returning to shape it until Sunday evening, and not cooking it until Tuesday morning.
  • Since it seemed very wet, after shaping it I put it in the fridge with a kitchen towel over it, instead of plastic wrap.
Covered with a kitchen towel, not plastic wrap

I put it in the basket seam side down, meaning not to slash it. However, it was so nice and dry after its rest that I did end up slashing it, and it (for once) cut nicely. I probably shouldn't have slashed it, though, because it might have grown taller without the cut.

Before going into the fridge

Fresh out of the fridge, 2 days later: barely risen, with weird dry spots

The resulting loaf was wide and misshapen, but it still tasted really good. I thought it might be extra sour due to the acetic acid encouraged by extended refrigeration, but it wasn't, probably because the yeast was barely alive and the dough was on the wet side. (See Tips for Manipulating the Sourness of Your Sourdough and "Where does the sour flavor come from?" in King Arthur's guide to sourdough.)

The final result
It looks burned but doesn't taste like it

Spent grain bread

This was a good bread that I will make again, although perhaps with more interesting grains and fats. I used Hensperger's whole-grain daily bread recipe (p. 181), which calls for 3/4 cups cooked whole grains and 2 T canola oil. In addition to the usual salt, yeast, and gluten, the recipe also calls for honey, buttermilk (I used powdered) bread flour, a bit of whole wheat flour, and an even smaller amount of rolled oats.

Spent grain bread

I liked the texture and flavor, but the spent grains didn't seem to add much flavor, and the oil certainly didn't contribute any. Next time I might try farro and olive oil, or perhaps buckwheat and hazelnut oil. So many possibilities. I might also try real buttermilk.

Whiskey-cherry-chocolate ice cream

This ice cream was similar to the version I made before, except I used bourbon instead of rye, candied jarred cherries instead of rye-soaked fresh cherries, whole cherries instead of quartered cherries, and TJ's semi-sweet chocolate chunks instead of whatever I used before.

I also was low on cream, so I used some half-and-half and more milk than the recipe called for. All in all, the fat and alcohol content was lower, and this ice cream wasn't quite as delicious as before—I mostly blame the cherries not being chopped. We also overcooked the eggs, which might have affected the flavor and consistency (although we strained the mix, as usual, so at least it was smooth).

Next time, I want to try this:
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 T whiskey
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks
  • ~1 cup quartered candied cherries (TPS p. 185), perhaps with a bit of their syrup
Sorry, no pictures this time.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Baguettes and two old standbys

I was away this weekend, but the week before I made baguettes again—successfully!—and a couple of bread machine loaves: toasted sesame and Bohemian black bread (BBB). Then for this weekend, I made the toasted sesame bread again.

Toasted sesame bread #1, uneven as usual (but tasty)

The toasted sesame bread seems to always turn out much higher on one side than the other. I thought maybe it was due to my not sprinkling the salt on evenly, but even when I mixed the salt with the water for loaf #2, the loaf was uneven.

Toasted sesame bread #2, still uneven

Now I'm thinking that perhaps the problem is simply that the bread is 100% whole wheat, and (even on the whole wheat cycle) the bread simply tends to clump around one mixing paddle more than the other.

A possible solution might be to check the dough when the raisin/nut beeps sound, to make sure it's even. It's not a big deal, though. The unevenness doesn't affect the taste or texture at all, just the size.

Toasted sesame is becoming my go-to bread. It's 100% whole wheat, it smells great, and it tastes great with everything except sweet toppings. It's great with tuna or pesto, and very good as a PBJ bread, but not so great with butter & jam or butter & cinnamon sugar.

Inside toasted sesame bread

Last week's Bohemian black bread (BBB) was fairly even, but a bit lower in the middle. I think that might be caused by the dough separating into two halves, each one centered on a mixing paddle. BBB has less whole grain than the sesame bread, fwiw.

Bohemian black bread (BBB)

The BBB was much lighter in color this time, since instead of using black cocoa I used Lake Champlain Chocolates cocoa, which is a light reddish brown. I need to get some more of that black cocoa.

The inside of BBB

On to baguettes.

A week ago Thursday and Saturday, I refreshed the white sourdough starter. Saturday morning I refreshed the whole wheat starter. Sunday I made baguettes.

I used a variant of King Arthur Flour's sourdough baguette recipe, ending up with these ingredients (almost identical to the first batch, except I used all-purpose flour + gluten instead of bread flour):
  • 1/2 cup + 2 T lukewarm water
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (I used white only)
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp gluten
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 T bread machine yeast
I forgot the gluten until a couple of minutes into the mixing. Whoops! Canceled the cycle, added the gluten, and started the dough cycle again.

Around 5:45 I took the dough out, shaped it, and put it in the gheed baker (where gheed is to ghee what oiled is to oil).

I wet a dish towel, put it on a cookie sheet, and then awkwardly dipped the top side of each baguette onto the sheet. I put the largest baguette in the middle. I added raw, whole buckwheat to the top baguette.

From top to bottom: buckwheat, biggest, prettiest

I accidentally turned the oven on before putting the baker in. I didn't realize until it was already hot, but I turned it off while the loaves finished rising.

About to go into the oven

I might have overbaked the bread a little bit, but my family and I liked it. It had a nice crust (though perhaps a little thick) and tasty, tender innards. And it didn't stick to the pan, at all!

Buckwheat covered baguette

We started with the buckwheat-covered baguette. A lot of the buckwheat fell off, but that just made it that much more fun for my daughter and me to go on a little treasure hunt of the cutting board.

The buckwheat-covered baguette didn't last long

The next day we had about 1.5 loaves left, which we used for chicken sandwiches. It was so nice to have a real baguette sandwich again! It made me want to find a recipe for banh mi bread, the craptastic bread that makes a terrific holder for delicious Vietnamese fillings. Here are some recipes that I might try:
Back to traditional baguette recipes, I'm thinking about trying some of the following recipes from King Arthur Flour, all but one of which require an overnight rest:

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Baguettes (starring Emile Henry) and onion sourdough

This week: baguettes! (Cue Flight of the Conchords' Foux Du Fafa.) I also made an onion sourdough before the weekend (new for me), mixing the dough Thursday night and shaping it Friday morning before going to work.

The baguette baker

This Emile Henry baguette baker was the last of my birthday presents to arrive. 

From my enabling-in-a-good-way husband

The baker came with a recipe book filled with lies, such as using flour to prevent sticking. Unfortunately, I believed the book the first time I tried making baguettes.

The first batch of baguettes stuck badly

All the baguettes stuck to the pan. One even stuck to the top of the pan, which made removing the top a challenge. When I finally managed to get the top off, most of the stuck loaf's crust tore off.

The biggest loaf stuck to the top

As a result, Saturday night we had pieces of baguette with dinner. Delicious, crusty pieces, but still... pieces.

What we could scrape out of the baguette pan

Lessons for next time:
  • Oil, don't flour, the pan.
  • Be careful about watering the tops of the baguettes.
  • Put the biggest baguette in the center.
  • Always look at King Arthur's site before trying to use equipment they carry.

Baguette trial #1

Here are more details about my first try with the baguette baker.

I looked at four recipes:
  • Hensperger's pain de paris (p. 216)
  • Hensperger's classic baguettes (p. 204)
  • Emile Henry's "The real French baguette"
  • King Arthur's recipe for sourdough baguettes
I ended up using kind of a mix:
  • 1/2 cup + 2 T lukewarm water
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (I used white only)
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour (most called for all-purpose flour plus gluten, but I had no all-purpose)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 T yeast
The recipe in the Emile Henry book called for just 2 cups of flour (3/4 less than the King Arthur recipe, if you count the half cup in the sourdough starter), so I considered taking out 1/3 of the dough for baking separately. But then I weighed the dough, and it was just over the 600 g that the Emile Henry dough should have weighed, so I decided against removing any.

The dough was quite slack (my new word of the week), but I used a ton of flour on the board, and a dough card as necessary. I managed to shape the baguettes, more or less, although my hands ended up covered in dough.

Shaped and ready to rise

I don't trust my ability to eyeball quantities, so I weighed the dough when dividing it in 3. That was kind of a pain, so I should just try to just eyeball it in the future.

After rising

I decided to slash one baguette, leave one unslashed, and put sesame seeds on one. I brushed all of them with water.

After slashing, splashing, and seeding

Coming out of the oven, they looked nice enough, even though half the top of the slashed one came off.

Fresh out of the oven

The crusts were crunchy, and the insides were delish. If only they had come out of the baker in one piece, I would have called them successful.

A success, if you ignore the fact that the loaves were in many pieces

Baguette trial #2

The next day I tried again, using the King Arthur recipe for sourdough baguettes, sugar and all. I halved it because 3 baguettes is plenty. So, along with the salt/yeast adjustments I always make, that meant:
  • 5/8 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (I mixed my white and wheat starters to get the thick pancake batter consistency it called for)
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour (I had gotten all-purpose flour in the meantime, but I didn't want to change too much from the last time, so I used bread flour and no additional gluten)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon bread yeast (not instant yeast)
I put all this into the bread machine and got the dough cycle going. I started 4 pm Sunday afternoon, and started shaping the loaves around 5:30 pm. By 5:50 they were shaped and in the pan. (The kitchen was fairly warm but probably a few degrees cooler than the day before.)


I decided to experiment a bit with the toppings, and to forgo slashing. The middle baguette had just canola oil spray; the others had olive oil and seeds (pumpkin or fennel). I feared that oil with toppings was a bad idea, but the egg yolk wash that the recipe recommended sounded like it might stick to the pan.

Ready to go into the oven
Top: olive oil & pumpkin seeds
Middle: canola oil spray
Bottom: olive oil & fennel seeds

I preheated the oven to 475. At 7:15 (perhaps a bit early, but I was out of time) I put loaves into oven, turning it down to 450.

Oil meant no sticking, and less crunch. Boo.

The results were OK but not great. This time, there was no sticking at all, but the crust wasn't as crunchy, and the loaves were flat. The taste was fine, but I don't see any reason to add sugar to the dough.

Next time, I'll oil the pan but water the baguettes. I'll also make sure the baguettes rise long enough.

Onion sourdough

Thursday night I cooked an onion in some olive oil.

Cooked and cooled onion

I then made my usual Josey Baker sourdough loaf, but with the cooled onion added.

The dough just after mixing

I did the usual 4 stretches of the dough. This dough was pretty darned slack, probably because of the olive oil in the onions.

After the final stretch

After less than an hour of rise time, I put the dough into the fridge.

About to go into the refrigerator
The green line is the dough's height just after mixing

When I woke up the next morning, I took the dough out of the refrigerator. The kitchen was pretty warm (81) before I opened the back door, which cooled us off a few degrees.

Fresh out of the fridge

I shaped the bread and put it in the long covered baker.

Shaped and ready to rise again

Almost 3 hours later, I decided it was ready to go.

Ready to slash

My guys took it out of the oven and sent me this pic.

All baked

My husband adored this bread warm. It was fine once cool, too, but when it was warm you could really smell and taste the onion.

A slice of onion sourdough

  • 9.5 oz onion
  • Thursday night:
    • 20:25 mix all done
    • 21:05 stretch #1
    • 21:25 stretch #2
    • 21:45 stretch #3
    • 22:05 stretch #4
    • 22:50 into the fridge
  • Friday morning:
    • 6:15 took out of fridge, let rest a bit, started to shape
    • 6:35 shaping complete; resting in baker
    • 9:18 slashed (badly) and put into oven, which I then turned on to 425 degrees
    • After the oven got to 425, I set a timer for 30 minutes and left for work.
    • My peeps took off the lid at 30 minutes, and then left it in the oven to brown for a few minutes more.